So our guild went into Ulduar for our first real attempts on the Flame Leviathan, last week (10-man version) – and after a couple of tries, we got him down. Definitely not a hard fight, once you get everyone on the same page.
But what surprised me most, was that it wasn’t a tedious fight, either. Where I’m usually less-than-enthusiastic about most other vehicle fights in the game, I found myself really really enjoying this one.
So as a tribute to that, here are my Top 10 favorite things about the Flame Leviathan fight:
10. The EPIC trash. You don’t just walk into Ulduar, and suddenly come face to face with the first boss (think Naxx, where you are literally 2-3 trash pulls away from Anub’rekhan). No, here you have to plow your way through *hundreds* of mobs, before getting to the Flame Levi, guardian at the gates. Sure, they die fast, but it’s nice for once to have to really push your way through to the first boss of a raid. It’s a good warm-up to your vehicle’s abilities, and it’s quite a bit of fun.
9. The tower-skipping option. I love how when you are running this simply for the regular mode, you can just talk to Brann to start up the fight, and therefore not have to go take out all four towers. Speeds up the process quite a bit, for those who are raiding on a time limit, and don’t want to spend a full hour on one fight.
8. FIVE modes. Now that is an awesome way to scale a fight. Just as things start to seem a bit too easy for you, you can add another tower into the mix, to keep the fight fresh and challenging. And you get rewarded with an achievement and special gear, for your trouble. Much more fun than a starter boss like Anub’rekhan, where you soon start to just kill him, to get him out of the way.
7. The scaling-with-gear. Everyone already knows about this one, but it’s still worth mentioning. It’s very cool on Blizzard’s part to reward players for being well-geared, by boosting their vehicle’s power as a result. It helps well-geared players attempt the hard modes of the fight, while also making the regular modes a bit easier each time, as you gear up through the rest of the instance.
6. The vehicle ability sets. Each of the possible roles in the fight, comes with a limited set of only 3 main abilities. Makes it much easier for newcomers to just hop into a run for the first time, without them feeling overwhelmed by too many complicated options. And yet, even with only three abilities, they remain quite FUN to use.
5. Variety. Between the different vehicles, different roles on those vehicles, and the non-vehicle role of Turret DPSer, you essentially have 6 different options for what your job is, in any given fight. That’s what I call variety, essentially making it so that you never get tired of running it, cause there’s always something different you could do, next time.
4. The core mechanics. I love how the core mechanics of the fight, even though they happen on vehicles, are relatable to things that come up in standard boss fights. Things like kiting a boss around without letting him touch you, disabling a boss and going into a burn phase, deadly spells that need to be interrupted promptly – it’s cool how these are similar to concepts that the average raider already knows well, while also being just different enough to feel unique.
3. The “Rescuer” role. Now here’s something that actually is completely unique. The task of driving into harm’s way on the Chopper, to pick up a Turret-DPSer and bring them back to their Demolisher, is one of my favorite new mechanics in this fight. Why? Because to my knowledge, it’s completely and utterly NEW. In no other fight in the game, will you have something similar to that. I mean, picture a battle where raid members are suddenly stunned and vulnerable, knocked out on the floor. Then, some designated raid members have to stop dps, to run up to the stunned player, pick them up and carry them out of harm’s way, until they get back to their senses and can continue to fight. That’s not a traditional tank, healing or dps role – it’s something pretty original and cool. I personally love it, and the flavor it brings to the fight.
2. The groups-within-the-group. I like how when you run the fight with 10 players, not everybody gets a vehicle. Ten vehicles running around with similar abilities would feel too bland, not all that different from Malygos Phase 3 or something like that. Here, instead, you have people being paired up into subsets. You have the coordination between driver and gunner on some vehicles, or the communication needed between a Chopper driver and the Turret-DPSer he or she is assigned to pick up. Players being paired up into those smaller “teams” enhances the special flavor of the fight, in my eyes.
1. And the thing I love most about Flame Leviathan… The actual story behind it. So many raids have you simply walking through the front door of the instance, completely and utterly unguarded from the outside. Sure, you’ll face swarms of trash packs inside the places, but it’s still somehow wrong that you can just walk into the lobby of Karazhan, Naxxramas or any other place, and pretty much throw a dance party there, without attracting the attention of any guards. It’s fine for getting your group set up inside the place, but it detracts from the story and realism. Yet here, you literally have to use siege vehicles and mount an epic offensive, blasting your way through a veritable legion of guards outside the Ulduar instance, before getting to the front door and bursting through it. Then just when you think you’ve successfully made it to the gate safely, the boss comes crashing through the gate, ready to destroy you with turrets firing in every single direction. Now THAT is a battle with a large scope, and an epic feel. Makes you truly feel like this assault on Ulduar is a big event – you aren’t just sneaking into a big instance this time around, you’re bashing down the doors and taking on anything in your path. That’s what I call great storytelling, to really set the pace for the rest of the raid.
So there you are – my Top 10 things I like about the Flame Leviathan fight.
Hopefully all of you get to experience it sometime soon – and hopefully you enjoy it as much as I did. Because in my eyes, Blizzard hit a homerun on this one.
Can’t wait to get a better look at what lies inside Ulduar, next.